LifeLineScreening - June 22, 2012
With National Transplant Week fast approaching, we have seen significant developments in organ and tissue transplant legislation.
A new ‘presumed consent’ policy, regarding the Wales Organ Donation Bill White Paper, proposes that at the age of 18 years Welsh citizens can either opt to donate or not donate their organs and tissue for transplantation. The key aspect of change and potential contention is that the responsibility lies with the person to specify their choice. If a decision on organ donation is not made, it will be taken as confirmation that they are happy to donate. Referred to as the ‘soft launch for the soft opt-out’ by the BBC, this policy is due to come into force in 2015.
“We are seeking a change in the law to increase the number of organ and tissue donors and to save lives. One donor can improve or save the lives of up to nine other people by donating their organs and many more through the donation of their tissues.” highlighted Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Government’s Health Minister.
In essence, ‘presumed consent’ means changing the default choice on organ donation; it is assumed that a person wants to donate their organs, unless stated otherwise, whereas the current system assumes the opposite.
In a previous statement on the Wales Organ Donation Bill White Paper the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) organisation cites research in support of the legislation that “most people in the UK would accept an organ if they needed a transplant but only 29% of us have committed to donate an organ after our death by joining the Organ Donor Register (ODR).” And that the NHSBT “welcomes any change that encourages people to discuss and support organ donation and will work within whatever legislative framework is introduced… As the UK Organ Donor Organisation, NHSBT will be involved in implementation of the new policy.”
Despite this, there are naturally counter perspectives and religious groups have expressed concern in response to the policy change. A recent statement from bishops of the Church of Wales echoed a feeling often present in discussions on the topic that it is important to maintain the notion of an organ being donated as a ‘gift’, rather than taken.
What are your thoughts on organ donation? Do you feel that ‘presumed consent’ is a step in the right direction?